Barrie man jailed for manslaughter after supplying friend with deadly opioid

·2 min read

Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 12, 2020

A 31-year-old Barrie man who unknowingly gave a friend a deadly synthetic opioid instead of cocaine was sentenced to 18 months in jail for manslaughter.

Justice Jonathan Bliss released his reasons for the sentence Oct. 30, saying while Robert Rodgers was remorseful for the overdose death of Darci Beers on Aug. 18, 2017, he failed to help her when she needed it most.

Bliss said there’s no doubt Rodgers believed the white powdery substance he shared with Beers and her neighbour was cocaine.

When Beers ingested a substance she believed was cocaine but was actually U-47700, known as “Pinky” on the street, it had a fatal effect.

While Beers died in her apartment, Rodgers and the neighbour were both rendered unconscious, the sentencing report says.

When the neighbour awoke, he tried to perform CPR on Beers, who was on the kitchen floor.

The neighbour yelled at Rodgers to call 911, but instead he called his mother to come pick him up, Bliss wrote. Other neighbours came to help, speaking with dispatchers on the phone until paramedics arrived.

“All the while Mr. Rodgers did nothing. Mr. Rodgers was certainly emotional and remorseful during his interview with police, but when he needed to act, when he needed to demonstrate concern and empathy for someone other than himself, for something he was responsible for, he failed,” Bliss said.

Beers was the mother of a three-year-old boy.

Rodgers pleaded guilty after being charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death in November 2017.

Rodgers told police he only knew his drug dealer as “Josh” and provided officers with the dealer’s phone number. However, police were unable to track the dealer down.

Bliss said despite Rodgers believing he was providing cocaine, he should have been wary of possible opioid substitutes.

Rodgers did not test the drug when he purchased it, and ended up suffering a small stroke when he consumed it, the court heard.

“It could not have been lost on him that cocaine is still a dangerous drug that alone could have been fatal, and, even in 2017, was being adulterated with other drugs with fatal consequences.”

Rodgers was sentenced last February.

Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance